Upbeat Royal Challengers target smarting Lions

Match facts

Sunday, April 24, 2016
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)

Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have added three 100-plus partnerships in four games © BCCI

Big picture

Royal Challengers Bangalore will have more than one reason to be happy with their 13-run win over Rising Pune Supergiants on Friday. They successfully defended a total for the second time this season and their replacement player – South African chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi – impressed on IPL debut. Thisara Perera caused panic in the end overs but Shane Watson and Kane Richardson held their own.

Royal Challengers’ batting has been red-hot, with AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli firing with astonishing regularity. Should they fail, they have enough insurance in the form of Watson, Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh in the middle order. Having lost in Mumbai and won in Pune, Royal Challengers would look to finish their last match in the western region on a high before heading to Hyderabad.

Gujarat Lions, meanwhile, produced polished performances in their first three matches before faltering against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday night. Aaron Finch has fired up the team with three fifties and three Man-of-the-Match awards in three successful chases but his only failure coincided with a big Lions defeat.

Captain Suresh Raina’s return to form was a silver lining in their 10-wicket loss, and their bowling, save for the Sunrisers game, has been consistently good. Lions, though, will want more runs from their allrounder-heavy middle order. Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja have only managed a combined tally of 60 runs in seven innings.

Lions had an intense fielding session on Saturday with funky drills based on relay-throws and backing-up. Lions performance coach Monty Desai said the team used such sessions to build energy. They would want that to rub on to their batting.

Form guide

Gujarat Lions LWWW

Royal Challengers Bangalore WLLW

In the spotlight

Dinesh Karthik was expected to be one of the leaders of the Lions batting group. But after his unbeaten 41 against Kings XI Punjab in the opening game, he has managed only 17 runs in two innings. Karthik’s wicketkeeping has also been patchy at times, and at practice, he seemed to place special emphasis on leg-side takes.

Tabraiz Shamsi, who came in as replacement for the injured Samuel Badree, had Ajinkya Rahane stumped at a critical period, despite finishing with an economy rate of nine. Shami’s ability to spin the ball either way will come in handy on a surface that has traditionally been kind to spinners. Ask Jadeja.

Team news

James Faulkner had a long net with both bat and ball, and he might return to the XI in place of Dale Steyn, who conceded 17 runs in two overs against Sunrisers. The hosts may also toy with the idea of playing an extra spinner in place of Praveen Kumar, who leaked 31 runs in two overs on Thursday.

Gujarat Lions (probable) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Suresh Raina (c), 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Akshdeep Nath, 8 James Faulkner/Dale Steyn, 9 Praveen Kumar/Sarabjit Ladda/Shadab Jakati, 10 Dhawal Kulkarni, 11 Pravin Tambe

Chris Gayle, according to a Royal Challengers source, is yet to join the squad, having returned to Jamaica on paternity leave. Also, going by Kohli’s post-match interview on Friday night, Shamsi is likely to get an extended run. Should they need another spinner, they may consider bringing in Yuzvendra Chahal for Harshal Patel, who leaked 25 runs in one over against Supergiants.

Royal Challengers (probable) 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 KL Rahul (wk), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Harshal Patel/Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Tabraiz Shamsi, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Iqbal Abdulla

Pitch and conditions

The game will be played on the same pitch that was used for the last two matches. It is learnt that one of the two adjoining surfaces was considered, but with the broadcasters having trouble in re-positioning their equipment, the same track will be used. It is an afternoon game and the temperature is pushing north of 36 degrees. The pitch is likely to have consistent bounce, while assisting batting throughout.

Stats and trivia

  • Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have scored 516 of the 732 runs (70.4 %) scored by Royal Challengers’ batsmen in the tournament.
  • Dinesh Karthik has gone 21 innings without a T20 fifty.

Quote

“The best thing about him is that he treats everyone equally. The way he treats the likes of Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch, he treats everyone else as well the same way. He might seem calm, but there is a lot of fighting spirit in him. He will look to win the match till the last ball.”

Akshdeep Nath on Suresh Raina

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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